The Factory, Manchester ~ The 14th of February, Valentines Night, and you wonder how many would pass on a cosy night in and go the other way, for a raucous night out with their (or someone else’s) other half in an iconic venue, in the centre of Manchester. Not that difficult a choice when you consider tonight’s smorgasbord of talent - a triple header with two headliners.
First up are the Support for the Support if you get what I mean. Royals hail from Southampton and we’re well received by the good people of Manchester, considering the early start and the fact that no one had really heard of them - Southampton being way too far South for the noise to travel, maybe - but it was a strong set, delivered at break-neck speed and made it well worth the effort to turn up early. It gets us in the mood nicely for the first of our Joint Headliners…
Don’t Panic have travelled a bit further than Royals, Southampton is a fair old poke on a bad day, but these boys hail from Pennsylvania, in the good, ole US of A, and they venture into the darkest depths of the UK as a band for the first time, although front man Felicetti did a solo set over here last year apparently.
They’re heavily influenced by the Foo Fighters, so it all bodes well, and we’re off to a good start with ‘Watership Down’ and ‘Let It Go’. ‘Sheep in Wolves Clothing’ and ‘Just a Call Away’ quickly follow, before I begin to question what kind of hospitality we’ve shown these dudes in the short space of time they’ve been here. Felicetti tells us they’ve learned about ‘dogging’ which they don’t have in the US apparently. They’d never heard of it - but they have now and may introduce it when they return ! Now the publicity it would generate would make interesting reading but I’m not sure how much it would increase record sales by. Anyway, the Americans can deal with that themselves, we’ll leave it for another day, perhaps.
We get a great version of a Nirvana tune ‘Mollys Lips’ before ‘No Time For Second Chances’ really does get Manchester bouncing. Felicetti is plagued with guitar problems, so Jake takes time out to tell us he’s from Texas and Anthony, who’s is contractually obliged to talk for 30 seconds each gig, by all accounts, tells us that America has tossers - of the salad variety. Oh, how we laughed !
Guitar issues sorted, we’re back into the tunes with ‘Woe’ and ‘Ramona’ before the band collectively tell us that kebabs are also unknown to Americans (but they approve of them greatly) as are chip butties which really freaked them all out when they discovered that we put our chips (fries) in between slices of bread - “too many carbs man” ! ! How did we get on to all this ? Well, I have absolutely no idea.
Anyway, we finish with ‘Fall of 99’ with the obligatory audience participation. Felicetti asks “If we come back to England will you come see us”. A big cheer goes up and he responds with “that’s what I like, a room full of fuckin liars” ! !
1. Watership Down
2. Let It Go
3. Sheep in Wolves Clothing
4. Just a Call Away
5. Regret is a Terrible Roommate
6. Molly's Lips (Nirvana cover)
7. What's a Guy to Do?
8. No Time for Second Chances
9. Friends Make Better Enemies
10. Woe I
12. Fall of '99
It’s all good fun and leaves us properly set up for a healthy dollop of punky pop, which apparently we have Don’t Panic to thank for, as it was their idea to do a dual-headlined tour of the UK - and for which we are truly grateful. Cheers boys, now bring on The Dollyrots.
There’s no big entrance, more a casual wander on stage with Kelly chatting to the crowd as if she knew them all. Novel, but there you go. When we start though it explodes with ‘I Do’, ‘My Best Friends Hit’ and ‘Everything’, all delivered in quick succession, barely enough time to take a breath in between and a bass so powerful that it could raise the dead.
Kelly does stop to breathe eventually and tells us that “they’re so glad to be touring where they can play more than seven songs” - this being a support acts maximum daily allowance - and the fact that despite being ‘over here’ a few times now, “they still can’t understand many of our accents” and that “Luis suffers even more, dude can’t understand All Creatures Great and Small or Downtown Abbey as he’s South American”. Cute.
By now, Manchester is in its element, and you can’t help feeling that we’re all friends together. Bless. You can feel the love ! The world is now a sunshiny place - until I’m dragged back decades with a punkified, but bey excellent version of a tune that would haunt me on the journey home. ‘Brand New Key’ must be 50 years old, if it’s a day, and it’s better known in the UK as ‘Brand New Combine Harvester’ because of the parody version by The Wurzels, in any case, it went down a riot and would stick in my head for the next few hours.
We stop for a while to take some time out when Kelly and Luis bring on their kids, River and Daisy, who do a fine comedy set, all straight out a Christmas Cracker, well some of them may have been, but some may have come from Dad or one of the Roadies, either way it gave River the chance to take full advantage of his ‘two curse words per day in public’ allowance - so he did !
Kelly asks “how do you follow that”, but they find a way with ‘Jackie Chan’ and ‘Satellite’ before a blinding finish with ‘Because I’m Awesome’. No encore, which threw us all off course a bit, but not disappointed. We got what we came for. A good night out with a Support and two headliners, all of which beats the crap out of a dozen, overpriced red roses, any day.
Tour continues across the UK until 21st Feb and then heads off to the US for much of March. Go do it. It’s good, fast paced, upbeat, punkified heaven. What more do you want ?
1. I Do
2. My Best Friend's Hot
4. Twist Me to the Left
5. I Know How to Party
6. City of Angels
7. Brand New Key (Melanie cover)
8. Dance Like a Maniac
9. Jackie Chan
11. Because I'm Awesome
Written for Rock at Night Magazine
Full set of images coming soon...